Romance As I See It

Some of my past musings on romance…


Wimps Don’t Write Romance

What is it about “romance” that strikes such a special chord in all of us?

Why do women know the 1994 Keanu Reaves/Sandra Bullock movie Speed is really a romance?

Emerging from the theater seven summers ago, my sons and husband were all caught up in the action, the “speed” if you will, of this fast-paced, super-charged flick. But I stopped them dead in their tracks with the pronouncement that it was really a romance disguised as an adventure yarn. That way men would willingly go to the theater and willingly sit through the movie, so we, the female portion of the audience, could have our pay-off, the kiss at the end.

The male members of my family didn’t believe me then and they still don’t. But it’s true.

Look at the best movies, the works of Hitchcock, for example. Sure, there’s a mystery in Rear Window or To Catch a Thief, but there’s also a romance. You think we sit through Rear Window time and again to find out if Raymond Burr murdered his wife on this viewing also? Or if the cat burglar in Thief might this time turn out to be Cary Grant? Not hardly. These movies endure because of the romance.

It isn’t mystery and mayhem that make the world go round. It’s romance.

Welcome to my site where the girl gets the guy and they embark on a committed relationship. Happy ever after? Sure! This is romance.

The Heart of a Reader

Occasionally there comes to my email inbox a letter from an unknown address with the name of one of my books in the subject line. Curiosity demands I open it first and what spills forth has always been worth the quick double-click.

Being electronically published, my books require more effort on the part of the reader than the shelves at the grocery store or Wal-Mart. The reader has to hunt me down, although I’ve certainly tried to make myself easy to find, both with this domain and reviews and paid advertising, such as in Romantic Times. But even once I’m found and a synopsis read and a decision made that the rest of the book is worthy of her time, the reader has to buy online and download a file. It takes an effort to do so. The easiest part of the process/relationship is writing to me afterwards if she enjoyed the book. And I must say, I doubt the thrill will ever die when someone does so.

To write me as author is proof that I have encountered the heart of the reader. When I can no longer find it, then the mind of the reader is going to be gone also. Her mind, her patronage, her money, her time. An author has to engage the heart of the reader and the best way to do that is to engage her own.

How many times have we heard the phrase, “the book of your heart”? It is commonly bandied about at conferences, particularly those meetings involving editors. Just write the “book of your heart” and your effort will find a place at their publishing house. Well, yes and no. Yes, if it also meets the publisher’s criteria/guidelines, and no, if it doesn’t. The book of my heart is obviously not everyone’s cup of tea or there would have been battles over my publishing rights. Alas, not the case. And, yes, I have written a book of my heart. I think it’s easy to read my backlist and know which one it is. I think it’s fairly easy to tell with any author, the example I’ll use being John Grisham’s A Time to Kill. Read this and then his subsequent, particularly much later work, and you’ll immediately see the difference. As a reader, your heart is in A Time to Kill. I can’t think of another of his fictional offerings, entertaining as they are, to be that way.

Does each author have but one book of the heart, and if so, why continue to write? Books of the heart define a labor of love. They stretch an author intellectually and spiritually; they make her delve deeply into herself. They require a period of recovery. When her edges are smooth again, then I believe she can write another, but it may take many books and many years before she’s ready to begin a new journey of such intensity.

In the meantime, a reader needs to enjoy what an author has to offer firing the imagination, overloading the emotions, and making her believe by engaging her heart. It’s a her gift to the reader even while the author is recovering from a tempestuous relationship with her own book of the heart. The reader but joins her on the road to the next fulfilling destination.

When is a Writer a Writer?

How many books does one have to write before one becomes a writer? Do the multi-publisheds’ friends come up to them and say, “So, what book are you writing now? Are you on a hundred yet? No? Are you slacking off or what?”

Yet, what would we do without our friends? Friends buy our books. Friends want to show that they’re interested in what we’re doing. Can’t you hear them talking amongst themselves? “So what else are we going to ask her about? She doesn’t DO anything else.” Then there are the ones that ask if I (being electronically published) have written a real book yet. Oh, let’s see, there’s a hero, a heroine, a conflict, a resolution, it takes several hundred pages to get there and the reviewers (for the most part) like them. Hummm, maybe I’m writing real books.

Why does it matter which number I’m on? If I say four, am I less a writer than if I say forty? As a reader, I have an exclusive list of writers who haven’t written scores of books, yet I eagerly await their next, be it third or tenth. Quality and quantity are not synonymous in the writing world. Some writers can maintain quality into the triple figures. Some shouldn’t be allowed to print number two on a copy machine. I’d like to think I’m the former; I remind myself how easy it is to become the latter.

Really? you ask. Really. Have you never read an eagerly awaited book only to be grievously disappointed? I doubt that. In the previous introduction to this site (available through the Romance as I See It link), I wrote about writers and the books of their heart. I believe not every book is such, nor should it be. Some are just books, with hero, heroine, conflict and happy-ever-after to be sure, but just books. The reader still admires the writer’s skill in bringing to life plot and personalities that send her through the pages. But she doesn’t race through them. That was the last book or it may be the next. But she trusts the writer and it will be again, of that she is sure. It doesn’t matter which book I’m writing; what matters is that I am writing. I am continuing to practice my chosen craft and to hone my skills. I want to bring to my art the highest ability I have at the time, knowing that as I concentrate and practice, I will improve. I want my friends to lose count of the number of books I’ve written and written well.

I want to lose count, too.

Writers Must Write

I have recently become a columnist for the North Texas e-News, an Internet newspaper based out of my hometown, but determined to serve the surrounding communities and counties as well. So far, it’s doing a good job (I’m hardly prejudiced you understand) and has added a new dimension to sending local news beyond the confines of the typical small town circulation.

This is freedom of a high sort. Perhaps I’ve been discussing the new Creative Art Center with a friend in Connecticut. Now, when there’s an article on the Center, I don’t have to cut it out and post it to him. I can email the URL. Just like the big papers do. The potential is enough to make me giddy and give my friends a headache from all the stories I’m tempted to send. I’m trying to exercise restraint.

But it’s hard not to send the URLs to my columns. So I broadly hint they are published once a week, usually on a Monday. Go see! Go read! Follow the link to ‘Columnists.’ But why even do this when I write books and this entrance into my website?

Because I believe that a writer can’t not write. I’ve read that elsewhere; it’s not original. Toward the end of my recently completed book, I became bogged down but still needed a creative outlet. My characters weren’t letting me have one. So I broke the logjam by penning five columns from nonsensical to serious and taking them with a cover letter over to the Internet paper’s office. I was accepted, we discussed the details, and within the next few days, the logjam opened and I finished my book.

I don’t really want to start another novel before Christmas. I’m letting the idea for the next one gestate in my mind, be on the backburner where I can take it off and examine it, then put it back on to simmer in the subconscious stewpot of my brain. But I still need to write. So I’m entertaining myself (and hopefully a growing number of readers) with slices of small-town life.

So, to find out about life in a small-town, visit www.ntxe-news.com. Click on ‘Columnists’ to get to the truly good stuff or search on my name.

So you’ve never read a romance?

Recently my romance reading club had the opportunity to introduce the romance genre to three non-readers of same. Although they were already friends of about half of us (so they have a certain obligation to stick around a bit), I’m afraid we may have bungled our first chance by telling them:

1) they didn’t have to read what we were reading for our monthly selection (Julie Kenner’s Nobody But You, Pocket Books, January 2003) before coming to the meeting and then

2) letting them read it without us reading and coming to a consensus on it first.

As it turns out, voracious romance readers that we are, we were ourselves sharply divided on it. Half of us enjoyed the light touch, the film noir private-eye-ness of it, while half of us just wanted to get on with the story. Hindsight being what it is, we shouldn’t have handed it to them. For their first foray into the world’s best genre, we should have handed them a book we all agreed on. While none of them were bowled over by it, they are willing to give us and our genre a second chance.

So how do we make the most of it and gather three more members into the fold? What do you recommend to people whose reading habits don’t include happily-ever-afters?

One of the three wasn’t able to come to the meeting. Since I knew she wasn’t pleased with the sensuality of the selection, I scrambled through my keeper shelf and handed her the following: Dee Henderson’s The Negotiator, the first of the O’Malley romantic suspense series; Carla Kelly’s Regency One Good Turn; and Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s Till the Stars Fall. The verdict is out while she’s still reading.

So I went online to the group and asked what they would recommend to get non-romance readers reading romance. Most important to one member was to consider what they are already reading. Don’t hand a futuristic to someone whose idea of fun is a Depression-era tale or a book whose historical accuracy you doubted to a history buff. That said:

Suzanne Brockmann’s Team 16 series (The Troubleshooters) that began with The Unsung Hero comes first to mind. The reader gets three great interwoven stories in each book. Deborah Smith’s On Bear Mountain or A Place to Call Home should warm the hearts of those into family stories, as should Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s Summer’s End. For historical accuracy, Candice Proctor’s Australia books, notably Night in Eden, should please. Need a little humor? Try Hailey North or Meggin Cabot. For those whose tastes run to the less sensual, Robin Lee Hatcher and Dee Henderson selections would be welcome. Sci-fi readers should be intrigued by Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Our librarian steers many of her male western readers to Connie Mason, Cassie Edwards, and Geralyn Dawson.

I don’t think you could go wrong to hand a LaVyrle Spencer or Pamela Morsi book to anyone. Spencer has the added bonus of being able to choose between contemporary and historical. Morsi’s books often fit the niche around the turn of the 20th century.

And you should explain “the rules” before leaving them to stand in front of the books at the local discount store.

1. Authors don’t pick their covers; most don’t even get to pick the titles, so don’t be too harsh on the writer for the work of the marketing department.

2. That said, a cartoon cover promises a book lighter in tone than, say, one involving shadows and a knife. A bare-chested Highlander signals either a fling in Scotland or a time-travel. Read the back of the book, perhaps even a few pages.

3. Read the publisher’s copyright page for important information such as when it was printed. Alas, romance is notorious for re-issuing books by popular authors. If the copyright is 1984 and you want something “right now”, this isn’t it. It may be an excellent book; it’s just not current in thought or deed or characterization, unless the preface states the author has re-worked it. Buy at your own risk.

As an interesting sidebar, this page will also show who owns the copyright, held quite often in the author’s real name or a business entity.

4. At the end of the book may be a preview of the author’s next work, especially if this is a series, or selections from other authors that write for the same publishing house.

5. Don’t be afraid to quit reading. Set a limit. Mine is usually 50 pages or three chapters. If it’s not better after 50 pages, if I don’t care at that point or find the plot so transparent I know the next words and situation, then chances are strong I’m not going to care at page 100 or 200 or the end. Sell that puppy at the used book store or donate it to a charity or local library for them to sell.

6. And speaking of libraries, for those truly afraid to try any new genre, the library is the perfect, no-hassle, no-expense way to try new books and new authors. Ask for suggestions. See if the library has a shelf where patrons “trade in” paperbacks and take others. Take advantage of it.

C’mon. Give romance a try.

Winning the HOLT Award

Winning the HOLT award has been a major boost for me. I am awed, intimidated, and honored all at the same time.

I hesitate to enter contests, even those that accept electronically published books in hard copy format. I fear the prejudice that sometimes lurks about books not published in a traditional manner. But A Suite Deal had received so many good reviews, that I overcame that hesitation, printed five copies, bound them, kissed them good-bye, and tried to forget I’d even entered. So receiving the call that I was a finalist tickled me.

When I first read the list of the 60 finalists in12 categories, I was unfamiliar with many of the titles. Therefore, I thought surely some of them were electronically or small-press published. So I printed the list and went online to get the information I needed.

An hour and a half later, I couldn’t believe the conclusion staring me in the face from my notes: I was the only finalist not published by a major house. I sat there at my computer, literally in awe of and intimidated by the company A Suite Deal was keeping, not only in the HOLT at large but also in the short contemporary category. Well, this was it, I thought. Better enjoy the ride until the winners are announced because I didn’t see making it any farther.

So I gleefully announced my finalist-hood and took the congratulations.

Then on June 14, the HOLT coordinator called and left a wonderful little message that I saved for three days until my husband got home from his trip: A Suite Deal had won the short contemporary category of the 2003 HOLT Medallion contest.

Now I was honored. A Suite Deal, an electronic book, entered as a bound manuscript hard copy, had not only beaten the odds to final, but to win. I’ve never made any bones about what the book is: a lightweight romantic comedy, a summer-perfect-read.

And the reader-judges thought so, too.

So please allow me to take this opportunity to thank the Virginia Romance Writers for sponsoring this prestigious contest and to thank those judges, whoever and wherever they are. I’m proud you liked my baby and I’ll do my best to write up to the standard you’ve set for me.

And I hope to see all of you again.

You should write about… me!

As a writer you hear it. As a reader you think it.

As a friend of a writer — whether you read the works or not — you say it.

And it’s not my female friends I’m talking about; it’s their husbands. Every man I know seems to think there’s a tidbit in his life experience upon which I can draw to write The Perfect Hero in The Great Romance.

Even my spouse has offered to pose for the covers of my books. Nevermind his status as “real life hero and good guy”, romance novel cover model is not in his job description or future. At least not in this life.

Of course a suggestion doesn’t count unless it’s made in public. Lest you think a party atmosphere is necessary, alcohol need not be involved. Let’s just listen in on a compilation of several.

Husband of friend (referred to from here on as HoF) approaches me and group of other friends, male and female.

HoF: You know, Kay here’s a romance writer.
(Author’s note: There are still people in my not-so-wide circle of acquaintances that do not know I write anything beyond Christmas cards.)
Others (mildly impressed): Really? Would I have read anything?
Me (shrug): Well…
(Author’s Note: Like how am I supposed to know what they read? If female, I may have already sized them up as to Oprah, non-Oprah, but beyond that, if they don’t know what I write, much less that I do, I sure as heck don’t know what they read, much less that they can. If male, romance might be the last thing I’d put on their list. But then, I’ve been surprised before.)
Others (cutting me off): Oh? Do you write under your own name?
Me (still trying to play it straight. You’d think I’d learn): Yes. If I can’t put my name on it, I’ll not write it.
(Author’s Note: So much for a cutting-edge career with romantica.)
Others (pausing): Are you at Wal-mart?
Me: No, I’m electronically published.
Others: (Several scenarios here)
Scene 1: I don’t have a computer. (Trust me, this happens, but these people won’t know I’m writing about them, now will they?)
Scene 2: I have to sit in front of a computer all day. Last thing I want to do is read a book on it. (I could mention they could print it out, or tell about hand-held readers, but at this point for their purposes the conversation is dead.)
Scene 3: Won’t you ever be in paperback? Like, a real book?
Me: As a matter of fact…
HoF (bouncing from foot to foot because this conversation is not really going the way he wanted it to): No, you don’t understand. Kay’s going to use me for a model!
Others: Cover model?
HoF: No. She’s going to make me one of her heroes!
Others (skeptical): Oh?
(Author’s Note: The conversation really doesn’t belong to me any more. I could leave and it would still go on.)
HoF (striking profile pose): Don’t you think I’d be a good one?
Others: Why? What’s so special about you?
HoF (exasperated): She’s going to write about a (fill in the blank from the lists below) (A) who (B). And (C) can be (D). And we’ll (E) and it’ll sell a million copies and be made into a movie and I’ll be famous.

That’s right. Read the book, see the movie, forget the writer.

A

Jock Super-Jock Golfer

B

Has loads of money Is on a secret mission Rides a Harley

C

Sophia Loren (got some middle-aged HoFs who think I write time-travel) Halle Berry Michelle Pfeiffer

D

A spinster and just needs a good man A spy for the other side and just needs a good man An heiress and just needs a good man

E

Run off to Rio and lose the bad guys Save America-oh, why stop there… Save the world!

 

Ah, yes, my hero!

Winging it!

The road to being published is rarely a straight line. True, there are those few individuals that sit with the media of the time (paper and quill, Big Chief and pencil, typewriter and white-out, keyboard and scroll button) and knock out the culmination of their dreams, package it up, send it off, and see it in print as speedily as the times allow.

Then there are the rest of us, a not-always-happy majority, who take a year to write the first work, another year to get up the nerve to send it out, and see only the print–it isn’t always fine–that states we have been rejected. That’s right: we. Not our work. It takes a few rejections to be able to separate self from work. I’m not sure we ever complete the process. To reject my latest brainchild, the one that took a large piece of my life to birth, is to reject me, its creator.

But the happy day did arrive for me, and I got the chance to be electronically published, to work with an editor, to learn firsthand that selling the first book is not the end of the effort, that royalties (at my level) will not send one on a vacation to anywhere but the local café. I also learned that while publishers and authors may agree on the worthiness of a work, they may not see eye to eye on the finer points of how business is conducted. Sometimes, they even mutually agree it’s time to part company and go separate ways. From other writers in many genres and publishing houses, both print and electronic, I’ve learned this is a universal fact of an author’s life.

In other words, I’m not the first, last, or only author to change publisher.

Which is a long way of saying, I’m pleased to announce that my work and I (since I’m in non-separation mode) are being represented by Wings ePress. This collaboration will see the publishing of new works and the updating of old. They will all be offered as electronic downloads or in print-on-demand trade paperback editions.

It will be a busy next two years. This month a new work, One Year Past Perfect, is available. Visit (link to wings) to read an excerpt and–hopefully–make a purchase. In June, A Suite Deal, 2003 Holt Medallion winner for Short Contemporary Romance, will be published, followed in December with The King of Paradise. You may read about both of them here.

Next year is a return to Texoma with the series begun with Lyla’s Song and Jemma’s Heart. The next two books are new, furthering the story with Sara’s Soul and Bettina’s Gamble. January 2006 brings The Mermaid and the Eagle.
Please join me as I join Wings ePress. Let’s all go “where imagination soars and dreams take flight.”

I Just Finished a Book!

My tenth actually. Ten books. Eight of them will/have been released in print form from my publisher, Wings ePress, Inc. One is hidden under the proverbial writer’s bed—or in this case, it’s in a notebook sitting on a top shelf. I reread it last summer hoping to salvage it but it was DOA in my editing book. This one I’ve just finished? I don’t know what will become of it. No sooner did I finish it than I turned back to the first page and started pulling together all the little pieces that I’d changed over the course of its (too long) birth. I can write a book in 8-9 months; this one took 16. Life intervened and I did nothing on it for the middle 6 months. Now it’s been edited, spruced up a bit, and is with a friend who will tell me if it makes sense.

But that’s not the joy that this opening page is about. This is: Let me tell you how it feels to finish a book.

Empty. Ecstatic. Empowered. Relieved. The pressure is gone. And so is my game plan. These characters and circumstances that have ruled my mental life for a particular period of time no longer have license to dominate my thoughts. I can banish them to the pile of “through.” My time is my own again. Why, I could even start baking once more. I could commit afternoons to breads and cheesecakes, afternoons that no longer need to be spent in the desk chair staring at the computer screen knowing that if I haven’t written ten pages by the time I get up, I’m falling behind a self-imposed but imaginary schedule. That if I don’t hurry up and get on with this one, I’ll never have the time to write the next. And the next.
The first book I finished became THE MERMAID AND THE EAGLE. It will soar again in January 2006 (right around the corner I tell you). It took me a year to write it, a year spent not knowing exactly where I wanted to go except that my hero and heroine were meant for each other. I stumbled around. For every three pages I wrote, I rewrote four others. I caught myself being inconsistent, changing names and eye colors, not knowing what day it was in my characters’ world. I wrote in secret. I wanted to finish it first before I announced I had written a book. I wanted to be “has written,” not “is writing.” I went to a conference. I was still too naïve to recognize how much I didn’t know. It took a few more years for that. By that time my bravado had turned to insecurity.

The first thing I did when I finished MERMAID was to start on the one now on the shelf. I tried a new time frame, a year instead of a week to develop the romance and story line. And that’s what’s wrong with that one; it takes too long. I like to write within a tight time frame, a weekend (A SUITE DEAL) or a week (ONE YEAR PAST PERFECT, SARA’S SOUL, BETTINA’S GAMBLE), maybe even a week with a skip of a few months to make the hero and heroine realize how much they need each other (KING OF PARADISE, LYLA’S SONG, JEMMA’S HEART). While in high school, I read collections of plays instead of the current novels favored by my friends. I like to confine my characters, have a set to work on, a hotel or a beach house. My characters don’t roam much.

Finishing a book is like punching a great big hole in the top of your head. The characters slip out—or are banished—but there’s nothing to replace them yet. You’re empty. Only the characters and their motivations in a new work will fill that void.

I was ecstatic to finish my first book. It was confirmation that I COULD DO IT! I could put a plot in motion and finish the path of the characters. That it even made some sense was a bonus. It gave me a sense of empowerment, that there was hope for people who live in their minds. We Walter Mittys could triumph.

So having finished this one, have I started on number eleven? Not yet. I don’t even know which one it will be. Over the years I’ve started several, only to find a chapter or two into them that they weren’t my special calling at that moment. I may review them, find if one calls again. In the meantime, I’m rereading the set of 4 in the Texoma Series that begins with LYLA’S SONG, a January 2005 release from Wings. It will be followed by the other three throughout next year. I wrote LYLA with no thought of doing more, so I need to work on consistency and get rid of the rough edges.

By then something will come to me. There’ll be a couple of characters sitting on the top of my head begging to go into that hole and fill the void, dragging others in with them and making me stare once more at my computer screen in the afternoons.

And to think I used to bake…

Covering the territory

2005 is very special for me. Four of my books, all related, will be published by Wings ePress, Inc. The story of my fictitious rock band, Bone Cold–Alive, will be available to a larger audience through print-on-demand technology. From Eddie T Samuel’s redemption to his brother’s change of heart, from nice guy Tib finally finishing first to Ron Gregory’s rescue, four heroes meet their match in four very special heroines.

The books will be published in March, June, September, and December. I wanted a special look for their covers and so, as is the prerogative at my publisher, I as author got to have input on the cover styling.

To be quite honest, I’m not much of a visual artist. True, the information form tries its best to lead the author to connect the dots in a cohesive format, but words are more my thing. I did know I wanted the covers to coordinate, to look like they belonged together but not like they were the same book. Therefore, the colors had to be different. The best I could do was search the Wings site for a style I liked, suggest it to my editor, and hope that the artist assigned had a sense of adventure and enough imagination for the two of us.

Artist Chrissie Poe brought her spirit of adventure to the table—and her sense of humor. The first book was the hardest to do, a meeting of minds, visual artist to verbal. Let us just say, it got easier as we went along.

So I present to you my four new covers. I’m very pleased with the look, with the fact that each conveys a special message about its story: the song that the hero and heroine fight over—and make love to—in LYLA’S SONG; the representation of JEMMA’S HEART, once broken; fireworks and a special full moon from SARA’S SOUL; the gambling spirit that both threatens to ruin the hero and yet proves to be his salvation in BETTINA’S GAMBLE.

I look forward to holding these books in my hand—and I hope you do too.

Ten years and counting!

It’s been ten years since I went online. TEN YEARS! Sheesh! Calendar-wise, eighteen and one half per cent of my life has been spent with email. In that time
a) I’ve had four computers, each faster and more Internet-savvy.
b) My children have finished high school, finished college and grad school, gotten married, moved away.
c) I’ve said good-bye to two very special cats and been adopted by two others.
d) I email friends whom I could call locally instead.
e) I’ve “met” people across the nation and across the ocean.
f) I consider friends people I’ve never seen.
g) I rarely read a new Internet joke or story.
h) I have to make myself print hard copy photos instead of merely “passing them around” the Web.
i) I’ve gone from being hesitant to shop online to having a dedicated charge card, booking trips, and being downright “put out” when a shop doesn’t have a Web-presence.
j) I don’t understand people who refuse to have email.
k) I’ve said good-bye, dial-up, hello, DSL. (Who, me? Wait?)
l) I’ve gone from unpublished to electronically, or e-, published.

Looking back on it, my world was very small ten years ago. On the other hand, or OTOH, I’d like to know where those ten years went!

What did I do with my time? Granted, I wrote on the computer long before the Internet pounced into my life, but I didn’t write all the time. Now, I read email, scan the “local” internet newspaper, for which I freelance, and check the stats on my website, before doing anything else with my day.

One of the things I find curious about the Internet is how cautious businesses were at first to take advantage of it. Do you remember when the topic du jour was whether or not to have a web site? I recall the articles in national magazines such as Newsweek or Forbes about what content they would offer—if any! When my local Romance Writers of America chapter, the Dallas Area Romance Authors, first mentioned doing a site, the main concern was it being usurped by pornographers. Now we’re about to initiate online voting, so I’d say that yes, we’ve come a long way.

Or, how about a world without Amazon.com, who just celebrated ten years on the Web ? EGAD! How about one without eBay? Ohmigod. <OMG> Can’t imagine it! Between the two sites, they’ve brought big-city availability to those of us in rural America, thereby leveling the commercial playing field. I don’t have to wait to “go to town” to buy a book or CD or video or search for a certain item of clothing or a golf club or my favorite lipstick.

So, okay, it’s not me interested in the golf club. <g> But this is my best story: I like one particular Borghese lip color the big stores carry very little of. It would take me months to find it and when I did, I’d buy two or three—if they had that many! Online: readily available and free shipping over $60. Let me see… yep! Click and send it! Take that, big Dallas stores! Carry more of the product—or lose your middleman status. Same thing is true with our water filters. Big Store sold me the filtration device… conveniently stopped carrying the filters. Hel-lo. Can you say Google?

Of course, much as I love the Internet, it comes with problems. Viruses. Little programs that think they–and not you–should control your computer. Spam. False information, of the “just because you read it, does that make it true?” variety.

But overall, I’m glad to be on this end of the information age. It’s almost staggering, isn’t it? What will come in to use in the next 18% of my life?

For starters, I’ve started a blog as part of the Wings Authors group. You may click to http://wings-authors.blogspot.com/ to keep up with the day to day.

And please remember: coming in September is SARA’S SOUL, the third installment in the Texoma Series.

My first lesson in point-of-view

Of course, I didn’t know it was a lesson or even what point-of-view was, but somewhere in elementary school I read the John Godfrey Saxe poem “Blind Men and the Elephant.”

Saxe, an American poet who lived 1816-1887, took an Indian fable and gave it widespread immortality with his short verses. However, according to the above site, the tale existed in China two millennia ago and has an African version as well.

But it’s the Saxe/Indian version I read as a child and the one I will stick with here.

Six blind men each examine an elephant, visiting only part of its body. Their conclusions, based on where they touched the elephant, are that it is like a wall, a tree, a snake, a fan, a rope, or a spear. Since each has only had access to a part, he cannot perceive the whole. It is an old version of get-all-the-facts before drawing a conclusion.

To me, it’s a lesson in POV, no matter the official poetic interpretation. In life, as in the tale, we rarely have all the facts. All we have is our view of them.

So it is with our characters. I had a terrible time with POV, preferring to let the reader know what everyone was thinking. I was a head-hopper extraordinaire. It took the tsk-tsking of my first editor and more than one conference program on it, before I finally figured out that the reader shouldn’t know all that was going on, just the view that the character has. I slowly, read that very slowly, came to understand that only two or three POVs per book weren’t a bad thing, but instead made for cleaner writing.

So, in my reformation, I have stuck to three: the hero, the heroine, and a mentor or go-between, someone who lets the reader in on a more balanced view of the romance than the h/h is capable of. After all, they are in love and not balanced. I’ve found that I now even prefer to read books with fewer POVs. Who knew I could so reform?

But every once in a while I back slide. I just contracted with my publisher, Wings ePress, for WEDDING BELLE BLUES (January ’08), a book of five tightly interwoven short stories which revolve around a family wedding. Each section has its own hero and heroine. Count that: TEN points of view.

It’s enough to make one kiss an elephant.

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